Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement

Just as subjects and verbs must agree, pronouns must agree with their antecedents.

Just as subjects and verbs must agree, pronouns must agree with their antecedents. A pronoun is a word that substitutes for a previously mentioned noun. If that noun (called the antecedent) is plural, the pronoun standing-in for it must also be plural. If the antecedent is singular, so must the pronoun be.

Change: My club is having a bake sale. These should help our finances.

to:

My club is having a bake sale. This should help our finances.

In the first example, "these" refers back to the antecedent "bake sale," but because "these" is plural and its antecedent is singular, an agreement problem results. Making both pronoun and antecedent singular solves the problem.

The person/number chart below will help you determine whether a pronoun is singular or plural.

Person/Number Chart

  Singular Plural
1st person I, me we, us
2nd person you you
3rd person* he; him; she; her; it; this; that; or any noun representing ONE person, place, or thing, as: a table. they; them; these; those; or any noun representing MORE THAN ONE person, place, or thing, as: some tables.

*All nouns—words such as table, cat or frog—should be considered 3rd person.

Activity

4.13 Edit the following sentences for pronoun/antecedent agreement.

a. If the people want unsafe cars, they will get it.

b. When a person needs advice, they can go to a psychologist.

(HINT: Make the antecedent plural to avoid gender problems.)

c. After the streets had been swept, it looked very clean.

d. I don't like tacos. It's too spicy.

e. The director organizes the play. They make sure everyone knows what to do.

f. Some students pick this up quickly. This person can go on to the next section.

g. Good friends, food, and a roof over your head-this is the only necessities.

h. Playing a musical instrument is a valuable experience for a child. They teach them many important things.